Clay County sheriff outlines priorities for 2023

Julie Morgan
Clay County legislative delegation (L-R) (state Sen. Jennifer Bradley, state Rep. Sam Garrison, state Rep. Bobby Payne)Photo byflsenate, myfloridahouse

The three-member Clay County legislative delegation on Monday heard from local leaders about the hot items they would like Tallahassee lawmakers to consider during the upcoming session.

The delegation includes state Sen. Jennifer Bradley, District 11 Rep. Sam Garrison and District 20 Rep. Bobby Payne.

Sheriff Michelle Cook spoke about three different topics. “We are really focusing on making 2023 the year of protecting children,” said Cook in her statement.

She asked the delegation to work on “tightening up” the charges of child exploitation and child sexual exploitation. She says “loopholes” in the law allow sexual predators to get out of the charges they’re facing.

Delegation Chairman Garrison told Cook that he has spoken with others in Tallahassee about this and they support her efforts.

“I can assure you this is an issue that we’re going to be moving forward on,” said Garrison. “There’s no tolerance for people who take advantage of folks who can’t take care of themselves.”

Cook also asked the delegation to consider helping the CCSO with funding for additional jail space. She explained that this is a “long-term need.” She informed the members of the current build-out using grant money to increase bed space but says it’s only a “short-term band-aid.”

In addition, she thanked the delegation and Gov. Ron DeSantis for supporting the initiative to recruit deputies from outside the state of Florida. Cook said recruiting numbers are improving compared to a year ago.

The first day of the legislative session is on Tuesday March 7, 2023.

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